Sources of Funding
Most law students fund their education through scholarships, loans (government or private), and part-time/summer jobs. So, when a school claims that it will meet all demonstrated financial need, that most often means that it will be met with a combination of those three sources of funding. The bulk of your funding will most likely be in the form of loans. Over 75% of law students take out some sort of loan to finance their educations. Some schools and programs offer loan-forgiveness programs-figure out exactly which types of loans are eligible for those programs before you take out your loans.
In order to figure out your demonstrated need, law schools will calculate your expected family contribution (EFC) using the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA), something you probably recognize from financial aid in college. They might also use their own methodology, which will take other factors into account, like your parents’ income. Generally, schools use the Need Access form or the PROFILE form. Apply for financial aid as soon as possible, as the longer you wait, the less money there will be left in the aid budget. Be prepared to have your parents involved in the process, because some schools will require their financial information. Government policies and law school policies change, so it’s important to educate yourself about current policies. Read the financial aid information for each school-don’t assume they all have the same policies or use the same factors to figure out your financial aid.
Student loans will have lower interest rates and may be subsidized, meaning that taxpayers will pay off your interest while you’re still in school. These loans can come directly from the law schools, law access loans, Stafford loans and Perkins loans. Federally guaranteed loans tend to be need based and include both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Loans from law schools can sometimes be merit based, and schools may offer them as an incentive for you to pick their school.
Beyond the aid the school gives you, you can secure private loans from commercial institutions as long as you have a good credit history. Before applying for aid, you should check on your credit history and clear up any mistakes. Private loans generally have higher interest rates and may require a co-signer. In addition to private loans, some students also get help from relatives and parents and use their own personal savings. Now is a good time to educate yourself about personal finance so that you can maximize the money you already have and learn about debt management.
Want more info?
Check out individual law schools’ websites, and visit these websites: